In 2011, my mind was spinning with all the information being thrown at me. Bladder cancer. Catheter care. Chemotherapy.
That summer, my mother had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.
As if Alzheimer’s wasn’t enough. As if a second bout with breast cancer wasn’t enough. As if my father needing a pacemaker wasn’t enough.
In the midst of all this, I wrote a poem based on Milo of Croton, the legendary Greek wrestler who began each day lifting a calf.
Okay — not lifting a calf here.
The legend goes that by lifting the same calf every morning, Milo could eventually lift a full-grown cow or bull. I didn’t need to lift a physical cow, rather a heavy load of struggles, one that was increasing in size.
If I lift the same calf every day
Could I someday lift a cow?
It seems logical and sensible
But impossible somehow.
Somehow I become broken
And it’s more than I can take.
Will I see failure coming?
Or do I need to break?
Or do I need a break
From lifting up the cow?
Am I stronger then, or weaker,
When I start to bow?
To bow under the pressure that’s
So heavy on my soul
That the spirit and mind and body
All begin to show the toll;
When can I say “Uncle”
And deal with this no more?
I strain under the calf-turned-cow
My cheek pressed to the floor,
Trying to lift up the cow,
But the Lifter of my head
Says, “Let Me help. Stop a while.
I’ll put others in your stead.
“Let friends come beside you.
You can take a rest.
Trust Me; it will be okay.
I really know what’s best.”
But the habit formed of lifting,
Lifting, lifting every day
Is scary to give up.
Lord, show me the way.
During that time I felt God answering every prayer I ever prayed about knowing Him more, trusting Him more, and resting in Him more completely.
The funny thing about challenges is that the harder they are, the deeper we grow.
I couldn’t meet the challenges.
At least not alone.
I found myself clinging to my faith during that challenging time.
Faith is not a crutch as some might say. It is a Strength.
It’s also faithful friends — that hands and feet of Christ.
I wrote Milo of Croton 5 years ago — and I think I still haven’t learned to yield.
But I’m certainly stronger.
Thanks be to God.